Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies around the world have been forced to close their office doors and move their workforce online. Some businesses were better prepared for this than others and already established a culture that allowed for working from home at least some of the time. Others had to quickly adapt to working from home using meeting tools and other software designed to protect their data security.
As the pandemic has slowly begun to wind down, many companies (and their workers) question the need for a traditional office space. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in typical white-collar office positions that don't require regular customer contact.
Accounting is one of those professions, as accountants typically work behind the scenes in a business. Interaction is generally limited to team members also employed by the company. If you're wondering whether there is a potential for accountants to work remotely, you've come to the right place.
Can I Work Remotely as an Accountant?
More companies today are choosing to move their accounting team to a full-time work-from-home model. This decision is especially common in the technology and fintech space. Technologically advanced companies have embraced remote work tools such as video calls and access to centralized files on a private server or in the cloud.
A survey by Enterprise Technology Research found that the percentage of workers permanently working from home was expected to double in 2021. By 2025, an estimated 70% of the workforce will be working from home at least five days a month.
Basically, it has become quite common for accountants to find positions entirely established online. In fact, many companies are encouraging it to save on the cost of office space. They've also found that their employees are more motivated, productive, and happier when they are able to work from the comfort of their own homes.
How Much Do Remote Accountants Make?
A remote accountant's salary will vary based on their qualifications, education, experience, and location. In general, remote accountants can expect to make just as much as their office-oriented counterparts.
Below is a list of typical accounting salaries within the United States for various levels of accounting professionals:
- Bookkeeper: $39,332
- Accounts Receivable / Accounts Payable Clerk: $51,665
- Staff Accountant: $55,840
- Tax Accountant: $65,171
- Accounting Supervisor: $70,872
- Senior Accountant: $74,162
- Accounting Manager: $79,087
- Assistant Controller: $82,832
- Controller: $97,516
- Chief Financial Officer: $131,417
All salaries indicated above were generated using Indeed.com's Career Explorer tool. Salaries can fluctuate tremendously depending on the company’s size, the intricacy of their accounting needs, and its location. Salaries are generally higher for those individuals working in large cities or Fortune 500 companies.
What Qualifications Do I Need to Become an Accountant?
Typically, well-qualified accountants begin their careers by obtaining a bachelor's degree in accounting or finance. During their time in school, they may seek an internship in their field to gain some experience before graduation.
After graduation, an accountant will generally begin their career in the accounting field as an entry-level accountant. As they gain experience, they may seek to further advance their path by obtaining a master's in business administration or a master's of science in accounting.
Once they have obtained the necessary experience and education, they can obtain a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license within their state.
Earning a Master's degree or CPA license will typically open many doors for individuals in the accounting field. They will be seen as true professionals and are often entitled to greater earning potential, better benefits and incentives, additional job opportunities, more job flexibility, and greater job stability.
Other common qualifications that an accountant earns include:
- Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
- Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE)
- Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)
- Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
- Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA)
- Enrolled Agent (EA)
Obtaining any of the above certifications provides a wealth of remote accounting jobs in various accounting and finance fields.
What Are the Benefits of Remote Accounting Jobs?
There are a significant number of benefits to working remotely.
1. Freedom and Flexibility
Working remotely allows people to set up their own workspace and use it how they please. No bosses are popping into the office to check on their activities. Instead, they have the freedom to perform their tasks on their own terms (given that their assignments are fully completed).
In some cases, remote workers can work from locations away from the traditional office. If there is no traditional office (or only a small space), workers may be eligible to be hired from anywhere within the United States. This is a considerable benefit as it allows workers to maximize their income by living in cities with a lower cost of living if they are so inclined.
In addition, freedom and flexibility allow workers to tend to family or personal matters that may come up during the day. Instead of taking paid time off to attend an appointment with the electrician, they can tend to it during the regular workday at home.
2. Health and Happiness
Remote workers everywhere experience greater health and happiness than their in-office counterparts. There is a tremendous savings of time when working from home, as the daily work commute is off your schedule. The time savings can be significant for people who seek to spend more hours at the gym, cooking healthy meals, or spending time with their family.
Mental health can also improve with remote working, as there is less stress, and working in your own environment can be relaxing. Happy employees are productive and motivated, which leads to better quality work.
3. Better Work/Life Balance
The ability to work remotely gives employees a better work-life balance. Working away from the office can allow you to feel more in control of your life and give you more time to plan activities with your family.
You’re also able to take a break when you need one! In addition, office politics are less of a factor as remote workers tend to communicate through email or video calls.
How Do Online Accountants Work?
An online accountant will perform all of the functions a traditional accountant based at an office does. Just because the job is at home does not mean the duties change. The only true difference is communication.
Companies that pursue a work-from-home strategy will generally need to modify their communication strategies to ensure that managers and employees stay in regular contact. This can be done through regular video meetings, online chats, and emails.
A remote accountant will perform regular accounting duties. These may include:
Financial reporting involves the preparation of financial statements, including a balance sheet, income statement, and statement of cash flows. Offices typically complete this phase quarterly or annually, but some do it monthly to support management needs.
Account reconciliations are the hallmark of financial accounting. Whether you actually perform the reconciliation or review them, you will still be responsible for ensuring they are completed.
Journal entries are an integral part of general ledger accounting. Journal entries will need to be booked monthly, quarterly, or yearly.
Another common accounting duty is the completion of regular tax returns. These can be done at home just as easily as in a traditional office.
How Many Years of Experience Do I Need to Become a Remote Accountant?
There are no set rules for work experience required to become a remote accountant. However, individuals with more experience and education will typically be more qualified for remote positions in accounting than those who don't have much.
In addition to the proper education and experience, it is helpful for remote accountants to be comfortable with technology tools. Companies working from home commonly use accounting software, such as QuickBooks Online, NetSuite, Xero, and Intacct. In addition, you should have strong data entry and Microsoft Excel skills.
What Businesses Are More Likely to Hire Remote Accountants?
Any business can hire a remote accountant, from a huge Fortune 500 company to a startup. However, small businesses, technology companies, and Saas companies are more likely to have a remote workforce. This is due to a number of different factors, including cost savings and a desire for a more flexible employment force.
How Do I Find a Remote Accounting Job?
You can find a remote accounting job through traditional job search engines, such as Glassdoor and Indeed.
Indeed is one of the most well-known and successful job sources out there today. Statistics show the site is responsible for 65% of all hires from job sites. That statistic compares Indeed’s success to CareerBuilder, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Monster, Glassdoor, and other job boards.
There are also specialized job search engines, such as FlexJobs, that list jobs that are 100% remote. When looking for a remote job, make sure to set up notifications for job postings that fit your current skill set well.
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